Vehicle maintenance skills are valuable skills to teach your kids, especially as they approach driving age. Many young people turn 16 and start driving their own car with little knowledge about how to actually take care of one. They may have watched their parents work on a car, and still have no idea how to keep one running smoothly. You can help make sure your kids understand the basics of keeping and maintaining a vehicle by teaching them specific skills and involving them in the process.
Ideally, kids should learn basic vehicle maintenance by the time they turn 13. At this age, they’ll likely be excited about learning vehicle maintenance in anticipation of getting their license.
5 Vehicle Maintenance Skills Every Kid Should Learn by 13
Giving your kids the gift of knowing how to do simple car repairs and vehicle maintenance could also save them thousands. If you can teach your kids these five skills by the time they turn 13, you’ll know they are ready and capable to take care of a vehicle by the time they are ready to drive.
How to Jumpstart a Vehicle
This one should be a given. Is there anyone among us who has never been stranded with a vehicle that wouldn’t start? It’s one thing to find another vehicle around to give you a jump, but it’s another to have the set of jumper cables and to know how to do it!
Jumping a car is incredibly simple. You just have to know where to put the black cable and where to put the red one. Give your kids hands-on practice by showing them how to do it, then allowing them to try themselves.
How To Change the Oil in a Vehicle
Usually, people need to change their oil every few months or every 3-5 thousand miles. While oil changes are not terribly expensive, they can certainly add up in a year. Changing the oil in a vehicle is a simple enough procedure that anyone can learn. This is another great maintenance skill to teach your thirteen-year-olds so they are prepared for when they start driving.
How to Change a Flat Tire
Once your teen hits the road, you’ll want to have the peace of mind knowing that if they get a flat tire, they’ll know how to use a car jack and install that spare tire. Show your kids each step of the process and give them opportunities to try. It takes a little strength, but you certainly don’t have to be a bodybuilder to do it. By the time your teenager is 16, they should know:
- where to place the car jack.
- how to crank it so that it lifts the car.
- how to loosen the lug nuts.
- how to remove the flat tire.
- how to replace it with the spare or donut tire.
How to Rotate Tires, Check Pressure, and Tread Depth
While we are on the topic of tires, you can also take advantage of teaching your kids how to rotate them. If they can change a tire, they can rotate them too. Not all vehicles need to have their tires rotated, but usually, it does help to extend the life of the tires. Sometimes the back or the front tires will wear down faster than the others, and rotating them can even this out.
You can also teach your kids to check the tread on the tires. This will help them decide whether they need new tires or need to rotate them.
How to Prevent Rust
If you plan on buying your teen a car, you’ll want to make sure they know how to keep the body of the car as nice as possible. It’s not that difficult to keep rust from forming, even if you live in a cold climate where salt is on the roads almost year-round. Taking a car through a car wash every so often and waxing and polishing it on a regular basis can keep the rust from forming on the body of the car. This keeps the value of the vehicle from plummeting and it looks nicer, too!
Never Too Soon
We think kids should learn these skills by the time they turn 13, but it really is never too early to start teaching them. They grow up fast! Before you know it, they’ll be learning how to drive and starting to branch out on their own. Not to mention, it would be a great help around the house once they learn these skills.